Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or worlds used in this story, including (but not limited to) Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Cleveland Show. No harm is intended toward any of the copyright owners. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only.+++++ON PHILIPPA THE VAMPIRE SLAYER’S TRIP TO STOOLBEND, VA
This story contains a scene in a morgue, and generally those scenes involve naked dead people. It also contains semi-explicit sexual situations that are intended to be humorous. You may be offended.
This story is COMPLETE. It runs about 6500 words, and will be posted in two parts. It is un-beta'd, so any mistakes are mine and mine alone.
The following story takes place in June 2010.
Philippa is a slayer that was mentioned in passing in “On Ramona Flowers”, the first story in this series. I’m conveniently ignoring the fact that Tim the Bear has given his age as “four” in the show, and treating them as if he and Arianna are about the same age in human years as Cleveland and Donna.+++++PART ONE
“I swear it’s just a race against time to go on vacation before something else happens.”
“I’m sorry,” said Tom, holding out his laptop. “But I think you’ll want to at least take a look.”
Philippa sighed and took the computer. Four men dead, drained to desiccated husks, and no real evidence other than that two of them were seen picking up a prostitute the night before. She sighed. “Where is this, exactly?”
“About fifty miles west of here. Town called Stoolbend.”
The head of the Richmond branch of the International Council of Watchers blinked very slowly at her assistant and watcher. “Stool... bend.”
“Hey, don’t look at me. Apparently there are two origin stories, and they both revolve around... um...”
“I have three children, Tom,” Philippa said. “You can say ‘poop’. I promise not to get scandalized.”
“Yeah. Well, so that’s how it happened.” He shrugged. “You’re going to Blacksburg. It’s on the way. I figured I’d at least give you first crack at it.”
“Craig isn’t going to be happy about this. You know he hates it when I work through our vacations.”
“I can send someone else--”
“No, no. I’ll do it.” She sighed again and handed Tom his laptop. “Can you get me a go-bag?”
“Already on it. You’ll have it by the time you get to your car.”
“Great.” She knew she didn’t sound happy, but it wasn’t Tom’s fault. “Anything else?”
He shook his head. “Have a good time.”
“I’m going to Blacksburg. With my in-laws.”
“Oh. Right.” He gave her an experimental grin. “Um... try not to slay any of them?”+
Conversation between Philippa and Craig had been stilted, to say the least. While he’d said multiple times that he was perfectly happy to be a stay-at-home dad, Philippa knew he worried whenever she was out fighting evil. What self-respecting spouse wouldn’t?
Of course, Philippa fought substantially less evil these days, especially now that Brian had been born. She didn’t know what it was about having a third child that made it different from the first two, but she just found herself... slowing down.
Which was weird, because if it hadn’t been for her being called as a slayer, she wouldn’t have made it this long.
Philippa had grown up in Winnipeg, which was, for all intents and purposes, a pretty okay part of Canada. As a teenager, she’d gotten away with a lot. Or, more precisely, everything: getting high, sleeping with guys, skipping school... whatever she wanted.
And then she got pregnant. Pregnant and scared, she ran away from home. That lasted all of three weeks; once the authorities returned her to her parents, they sent her to Toronto to live with her Aunt Michelle -- to get her away from all the negative influences her friends were laying upon her, for starters. Or, at least, that’s what they called it.
It saved her life. At age seventeen, Philippa was in the hospital with her aunt and her cousin Connie, giving birth to her son. She’d already picked out a name -- Vincent, after her father -- and now she just had to go through the hard part.
Something went wrong. Very, very wrong. And at the same time something went very, very right.
Philippa found out later that she’d been called as a slayer only moments after Vincent’s birth, and it was slayer healing that allowed her to pull through some pretty unpleasant post-delivery complications.
Seven years later, she had three children -- the two younger ones both fathered by her husband, Craig Spears, who’d been a technician at the slayer school and who’d been very careful to use protection every single time before they’d gotten married three years ago. Craig had family in Virginia, and after years of training Philippa had been chosen earlier that year to run the slayer house in that state. She was young, but then, all the slayers were young. The oldest was Buffy, and she wasn’t even thirty yet; Philippa was only just now twenty-five.
Philippa sighed and reached for Craig’s hand. He sighed back, but didn’t pull away. They were almost to Stoolbend now. Vincent, Meredith, and Brian were in the back seats of the minivan; her oldest was glued to a Nintendo DS, while Brian slept and Meredith, who had just turned two, was watching the scenery roll by.
A few minutes later, Craig pulled into the parking lot of the bed and breakfast where Tom had secured them a suite. One thing Philippa could say about the Council -- they didn’t skimp on travel arrangements.+
“I’m just going to do a quick patrol,” Philippa said after the kids were asleep. “I’ll be back by midnight. One at the latest. I didn’t feel anything major as we drove through town.” One of Philippa’s slayer abilities was to get a general sense of the evil in an area -- it wasn’t sharp enough to pick out individual vampires or demons; it was more like a faint magnetic pull in her chest. “And, Craig?”
“I’m sorry about this.”
“Don’t be.” He let her hug him, let her kiss him, but didn’t respond. Philippa filed that little piece of information away, but now wasn’t the time to discuss it. After the vacation, maybe. “I love you,” he said.
“Love you too.”
She left their suite already dressed for work. It was too hot to wear a jacket, even though the sun had gone down; she’d settled for a loose button-down shirt, untucked, over a camisole that protected her skin from the equipment harness strapped to her body. Stakes, a cross, vials of holy water, and a couple of prepared spells, just in case. Plus, the pockets of her jeans were cut out so she could reach into them and pull out a dagger from each. It wasn’t comfortable, but it would do.+
Philippa made it to Stoolbend Cemetery in record time, even for her. Stuck behind a desk most of the time, she didn’t get many chances to use her slayer powers to their full potential. Not tonight, though. The trip allowed her to zip from shadow to shadow, practice her stealth, and hone her reflexes by avoiding normal humans.
If only there’d been a vampire to slay. But the cemetery was quiet.
Disappointed, Philippa walked back toward the B&B. Her route took her through a residential area, and at 11:15 at night with no evil in range, she allowed herself to enjoy the stroll. For June, it wasn’t too bad outside; a light breeze kept her cool.
It also brought her the scent of... of something
. Something she hadn’t smelled in a while.
Philippa smiled. Now that she had kids, she didn’t get high nearly as often as she’d like -- plus, it took an awful lot to impair a slayer. Alcohol was cheaper and easier to obtain.
Still smiling, she shook her head. Got to be a good example for the kids -- both the slayers and my own.
The smell grew stronger as she came closer to one of the houses, and her sensitive ears picked up what sounded like teenagers in the throes of a good high.
She got a terrible, terrible idea.+
“Dude, mellow out.”
Philippa backed away, daggers in her hands. “What... the hell... are you?”
“R... Raymond?” She swallowed hard.
Raymond took a hit off the bong and passed it to a girl wearing all black with far too much silver jewelry on her face. “Yeah. Raymond. That’s Gina.”
“Hey,” said the girl, her voice raspy. “Raymond, do you... like... know this chick?”
He shook his head and waved in Philippa’s direction; she adjusted her stance -- Raymond had thick claws at the ends of his hands. No, not hands. Paws. Or whatever it is bears have.
“Look, lady, we’re not hurting anyone. Why don’t you just move on, huh?”
“Move... move on?” She shuffled forward and Raymond edged back. “I’m sorry, but what the hell are you?” She flicked a glance at Gina. “You... you do know he’s a bear
“Of course she knows,” Raymond said. He reached for the bong, and when Gina gave it to him, he extended his paw to Philippa. “I think you need this more than me.”
“Oh, God, do I ever.” But she didn’t take the bong from him. “I wish it worked.”
“Hey, that’s okay,” Raymond said. “But could you, like, put those away? I’m not going to hurt you or anything. I’m way too high for that.”
Philippa blinked a couple of times. She wasn’t getting any vibes off Raymond -- or Gina, for that matter. The magnetic pull in her chest wasn’t telling her that Raymond was evil. She sighed and returned the daggers to the sheaths in her jeans. “Okay,” she said. “I’m sorry if I startled you. I just...” She laughed. “I was just trying to sneak up on you and scare you, as dumb as it sounds.”
“Sounds pretty dumb.” Gina was up now, holding Raymond’s thick, furry arm against her chest. “You’re awful uptight for someone who’s only, like, 25 or whatever.”
“I said I was sorry.”
Raymond waved his other hand, as if he was trying to dismiss her concern. “It’s okay. Besides, Gina’s safe with me.” He inclined his head at a spare chair on the back porch. “Sit down, if you want.”
“O... kay.” Philippa turned the wrought-iron chair to face the swing where Gina and Raymond had moved to sit before lowering herself into it. She watched Raymond take another hit, hold it for an unbelievably long time, and then blow it into the air. “Look, Raymond, I have to ask...”
“Talking bear. I know.” He shrugged and, after Gina took another hit, set the bong on a table. “My folks never really explained it to me.”
“I think his family’s cursed,” Gina said, her voice slow and her tone exaggeratedly-serious. “I mean, his dad’s in telemarketing.
“Yeah, that sounds awful.” Philippa felt her phone vibrate in her pocket, but ignored it. Probably just Craig, checking on her. “So you understand about weird stuff?”
“Oh, he knows the weird stuff,” Gina said, and somehow Raymond managed a blush through the fur on his face. Muzzle? Jaw? What the hell is it on a bear, anyway?
“We caught a vampire last month. That was weird stuff, weirder even than Raymond.”
“Does... that happen a lot?”
Raymond shook his head again. “I don’t think so. I keep an eye on the papers and things, and stake out--” He started chuckling, and it took several seconds for him to find the conversational thread again. “I stake out the cemetery when I have to.”
“That’s good, I suppose.” Philippa’s palms were damp; she wiped them on the legs of her jeans. “So then you know something’s going on here. Something draining bodies. Men’s bodies.”
“Yeah,” Raymond said. Gina was nuzzling his fur, her hand on his thigh; he put one large paw over it and whispered, “not in front of the lady.” Then he cleared his throat. “Sorry about her.”
“It’s okay.” Philippa had done similar things to her boyfriends back in her high school days. “Do you have any idea what it is?”
“Not yet.” Gina squirmed a little and Raymond closed his paw carefully around her wrist. “Do that again,” he said, “and you’re in trouble.”
“Please?” she asked.Okay, now I’m uncomfortable. How do they even--
Oh, God, ew! Why am I even thinking that?
Philippa stood up and walked across the porch and back. “I’m in town for a couple of days to find the thing and stop it. I certainly could use a little help.”
“Sure,” Raymond said. “Just... not tonight, okay?”
“Definitely not,” Philippa said quickly. “Let me give you my number; we can meet up tomorrow.”
He nodded and took out his phone. Philippa wasn’t quite certain how a bear as big as Raymond used an iPhone without scratching the screen all to hell, but he pulled it off. “Okay, we’re going to go inside now,” he said. “If you’re what I think you are... you may want to get out of hearing range.”
Gina looked at Raymond, her expression more confused than the pot could account for. “What do you mean, ‘what she is’?”
Philippa shrugged, bid them good-night, and jogged around the house. Once out of sight, she started to run, though not quite fast enough to avoid hearing the sound of a paw thudding against something and an accompanying high-pitched squeak.
A squeak that sounded an awful lot like her own squeaks when Craig did something she liked.
She put on a burst of speed after that.+
After breakfast, Philippa kissed Craig and the kids good-bye -- they were headed off to a park for the morning -- and walked to the hospital. The only morgue in the small town was in the hospital basement, and the latest victim would probably still be there.
Raymond, surprisingly, was already on the scene, waiting for Philippa. He had coffee and brownies. “They’re my special recipe,” he said.
That was enough to make Philippa skip the snacks, although the coffee was quite welcome. “How did you get in here?”
“I’m a bear,” Raymond said. Though Philippa could smell the drugs on him, he seemed remarkably cogent. She wondered how he did that. “People don’t see bears where they don’t expect to see bears.”
“Fair enough. What did you find?”
“Not a lot,” he said. “I sniffed around--”
“I bet you did.” Raymond gave her a long-suffering glare that was almost exactly like Buffy’s -- and it had the same effect. “Sorry.”
He shrugged and continued. “He didn’t sleep with anyone, but I can smell whoever he was with. Or, actually,” he amended, “I can not
smell it. It has almost no scent whatsoever.” He ate one of the brownies, chewing slowly. After he swallowed, he said, “I did figure out how it’s happening.”
Raymond pulled back the sheet covering the dessicated corpse’s body. Philippa steeled herself as what was left of its genitalia came into view. “That’s how.”
Philippa gritted her teeth. She’d seen some nasty things in her time as a slayer, but there were some parts of the body that should be sacred. Eyes, for one -- she got queasy just thinking about the way Xander had lost one of his. And, for another... “Where...” She swallowed hard and tried to keep breathing. “Where are his testicles?”
Raymond picked up a pencil -- “they don’t make gloves for me,” he said, which made Philippa immediately find a pair and put them on -- and lifted the corpse’s empty--
That was it. Philippa turned to the nearest trash can and vomited up her breakfast.+
“I’m sorry,” she said as she and Raymond sat in the hospital garden. “That was unprofessional.”
“Dude, the guy’s balls were drained. Whatever did this sucked the life out of him via his--”
He ate another brownie. “I’m just saying,” he said a few seconds later, “that it’s going to be a long time before I even think about letting Gina--”
They were silent for a couple of minutes, Philippa drinking her now-lukewarm coffee and trying not to remember the sight of the victim’s remains. When she could talk again, she turned to the bear. “Raymond,” she said, deciding to approach the subject the long way around, “how did you know I’m a slayer?”
“Talking bear,” he said, as if that explained it all. Philippa felt a tug at the back of her mind, like some sort of magic was trying to get her attention, but she ignored it. “Only the magically-inclined really realize me and my parents are what we are. Everyone else, it’s like, ‘oh, bear,’ and then they treat us like people. Even Gina, and she’s been up close and very personal to all my bear parts, if you know what I mean.”
Philippa closed her eyes slowly, counted to ten, and then opened them again. “I really did not need to know that, no matter how germane it might have been to the subject.”
“My bad.” He actually did look apologetic. “I don’t know if it has to do with us, or with this town, but we never had it this easy anywhere else we lived.”
“I’m sorry.” Philippa didn’t know from personal experience what it was like to grow up different, but enough of her slayers did. “Just how much do you know about us?”
“Lore, mostly. I’m on the internet a lot, and when I was ten, my babysitter got sent to juvie for beating the hell out of some girl. Almost killed her. I wanted to know what happened, and no one would tell me, and she’d never hurt me or anyone else that I know of. I didn’t really know what I was seeing at the time, but now I do: lots and lots of girls getting in trouble, or leaving home, or being all superhero-y, all around May 2003.”
Philippa nodded. “That’s when it happened to me, too. But why didn’t you try to contact us? As long as you’re not hurting anyone, we wouldn’t have hurt you.”
“My dad always says that no one should look too hard at what we are, and that would’ve meant looking hard. He’s a douche sometimes, but I know he cares about what happens to our family.”
“I get that.” Philippa finished the coffee and set down the cup. “But, Raymond, you’re just a teenager--”
“Hey! I’ll be eighteen in a few months! How old are your slayers?”
A fair point, but Philippa wasn’t going to allow him to win it -- she’d had enough experience with baby slayers to know how to deal with this particular attitude. “You’re not a legal adult, and your parents are ultimately the ones responsible for you. Even if you think you can make your own decisions, you shouldn’t. How would they feel if something happened to you?”
Raymond let his jaws open, revealing sharp teeth. “Talking. Bear.”
Philippa sighed and, in a flash, had a knife against Raymond’s throat and her forearm in his mouth, pressing back against his jaws, wedging them apart. “Slayer,” she said. “I could snap your neck, break your jaw, or cut your throat -- maybe all three -- before you even start to bite down. And I’m just a human -- an enhanced human, but a human all the same. There’s lots out there worse than me.” She moved away, hiding her weapon and brushing bear slobber off her sleeve. “I’m sorry about that,” she said, “but you had to be shown.”
Raymond ran his tongue over his teeth and shifted his jaw side to side a couple of times, then dispatched another brownie with one snap of his huge mouth. “Fine. So we’ll work together, figure out what’s sucking men’s life out their dicks, and then you can move along.” He leveled dark eyes at her. “This is my town.”
She took a couple of long breaths, then nodded. “All right. But once I’m gone, I want you to promise me you’ll call if things get out of hand.”
“And,” she said, “I want you to come to Richmond for the rest of the summer -- until school starts. Tell your parents it’s a summer job -- we’ll even pay you.”
“So you can learn the right way to fight the kind of evil you’re facing.” She felt her expression soften. “You’re still a kid, Raymond. I don’t want the death of a kid on my conscience if I could’ve helped him.”
“Fair enough,” Raymond said. “Now -- what are your plans to find this thing?”
“Well,” Philippa said, “who would you talk to if you wanted to know which--” She grimaced and continued-- “which prostitutes were safe?”
“Why? I’m not sleeping with one -- Gina would kill me, and anyway why would I want to?”
“You wouldn’t. But if this thing is picking up guys by posing as a hooker, someone’s got to know about her.”
Raymond nodded. “I have an idea.”+++++Your feedback is, as always, greatly appreciated.
Next time: we find out what's killing men in Stoolbend. Hey, it's only a two-part story; I think you knew that you'd get the answer pretty quickly.